When the Garbage Stinks, Take it Out
There’s a garbage can in your head that’s stinking up your leadership.
Garbage is your inclination to pretend you’re less than you are by clinging to old ways of thinking about yourself.
Garbage does one thing, and one thing only. It makes you matter less.
It’s time to take out the garbage.
While driving to a meeting, I thought about ways to affirm two leaders I work with. One is tougher than he thinks. The other is braver than she thinks.
While mulling over a way to affirm them, I wondered about questions that would:
- Affirm their progress.
- Challenge them to reach higher.
- Enable them to see themselves in new light.
Three questions to take out the garbage in your head:
#1. What old ways of thinking about yourself do you need to let go?
Garbage makes you live like someone you aren’t.
You might smell inadequacy and pretend you’re more than you are. You puff yourself up. Bravado and posturing are compensations for inadequacy.
Others might smell old ways of thinking and pretend they’re less than they are. False humility is a protective shield that lowers expectations.
Garbage always makes you matter less.
#2. If you let go of those old ways of thinking, who would you be?
I wanted them to see themselves in new light.
When I asked them the second question, they talked about who they wouldn’t be. That’s normal.
Listen to negatives, but always press toward positives.
I asked, “How can you say those negatives in positive ways?” Don’t tell me who you aren’t. Tell me who you are.
#3. What would people see in you, if you embraced that new person?
Find new ways of expressing the person you’ve become.
Old ways of thinking about yourself anchor you to a past that doesn’t serve you well today.
(I asked the three questions. The conversation is private.)
How might leaders release old ways of thinking about themselves?
Hello Dan. Thanks for the post. It’s really all about change, and the tendency to avoid it. Despite personal growth and intentional efforts to develop skills, it’s still feels safer to keep viewing oneself through old lenses, rather than embracing that one is now capable of so much more (including taking risks). A little voice in our minds likes to remind us that staying in our safe spots is likely to result in comfortable results and little failure. However, we (and the organizations we serve) deserve the benefit that comes from changing our self-paradigms and challenging ourselves to accomplish more than our old selves would have ever dared, things that may include some stumbling along the way, but still things we ARE capable of accomplishing as we move forward.
Your #2 and #3 remind me of Byron Katie and The Work. Encourage everyone to check it out.
I think this post hits upon one of the prime benefits of coaching: It helps leaders see themselves from another’s trusted perspective. We’ve all read the studies that show that it is often the most competent people who tend to see themselves as “less:” less brave, less tough, less capable in general. Helping folks realize their accomplishments, as well as helping them believe in their ability to reach new heights, gives them courage and confidence. An admirable endeavor!
Dan, Appreciate your words and honesty. These questions lead me to think more about transformation verses change. Appreciate you!
Hi Dan, thanks to share your reflexion. I hope you’ve suceeded. Using the 3rd question is very smart; it’s a good way to make people changing : Human beings are social animals…
How might leaders release old ways of thinking about themselves? Dan, Don’t live in the past, reflections of the past lessons will guide or change our tomorrows, the past is a steeping stone to our becoming enhanced leaders or servants..
No one can allow their feelings of inadequacy or their overconfidence control what they do. Each person must be able to honestly self-assess their status in order to reflect on how things are going and how it can go better (metacognition as the educators call it – really big word for us engineers…).
But there’s also another important Consideration / reflection that each of us must make: What is it that we’re really passionate about? Then we need to begin to develop our plan for addressing that passion – and begin. Will there be missteps / failures that are likely? For sure, if it’s a meaningful passion. While it’s hard for me to visualize it, I guess there could be missteps / failures that could end the addressing if that passion; I believe that with learning, we can move forward. Might be slower… Might need additional resources… Might have to recruit help… Might have to creatively develop new tools… But, to me, it’s like riding a bike: Nobody can teach you how to ride a bike; and if you really want to ride a bike, nothing can stop you from doing so!!!
Think of the news we are routinely receiving about incredible achievements, ones believed by most if not all as impossible. I heard Steve Harvey discuss this recently. He advised everyone to identify that passion and, his word: “Jump!!!”
Wow, really on the soapbox with these comments…
Liked the post and pointing the newer ways of progress.
Thinking new by discarding old way of thinking and acting the established past way is the need of an hour in a competitive environment. The best way to inculcate this new change is to listen to the younger team members! They have a courage to think differently and would like to grow with an organization rapidly.
Good leaders always seek for the opinion of others and invite newer ways of thinking to chart the new way of progress. However, they need to have the right conviction to try out new things and should take the bold decision of not going with a consensus to break the traditional way of working. Consumer Research too has its role in out-of-box thinking and experimenting the innovation in Products, Price, Process, Place & People.
Just thought I’d chime in and say how useful posts like these are with questions I can directly use in coaching conversations.